City confirm plans to remember former boss Ron Saunders

PUBLISHED: 11:49 08 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:00 08 December 2019

Ron Saunders during one of his famed training sessions on Mousehold Heath Picture: Archant

Ron Saunders during one of his famed training sessions on Mousehold Heath Picture: Archant

Archant

Norwich City have announced their will be a pre-match tribute to former Norwich City manager Ron Saunders ahead of Sunday’s Premier League home game against Sheffield United at Carrow Road.

Ron Saunders Picture: ArchantRon Saunders Picture: Archant

His death was announced by another of his former clubs, Aston Villa, on Saturday evening.

The Canaries' confirmed their plans on the club's official twitter feed.

"There will be a period of remembrance prior to the match today for our former manager Ron Saunders, who sadly passed away. The City team will also wear black armbands."

Saunders guided City to the Second Division title in 1972, which saw them promoted to the First Division for the first time in their history, under the captaincy of Duncan Forbes, who also died recently.

Saunders joined City in 1969, at the age of 36, having began at Yeovil Town as player-manager, followed by a dozen games in charge at Oxford United.

It was the super-fit Saunders who instigated the famous gruelling training sessions on Mousehold Heath - the manager himself looking as fit and trim as any of his players.

City finished 11th and then 10th in the old Second Division in his first two seasons in charge, but in 1972 that all changed.

David Cross recalled how Saunders made City fit for purpose.

"We were very fit," Cross told the Daily Mail. "I learnt how hard pre-season had been. It was high intensity from the first minute of every match. What Liverpool do now, we did 40 years ago."

"Whenever keeper Kevin Keelan got the ball, the defence had six or seven seconds to get to the halfway line. That would push the midfield up. If the opposition won the ball from Keelan's kick, they'd have two or three players still making their way back and would be offside. We steamrollered teams. Everyone played 4-4-2 then, but to Saunders it was 10 attackers, 10 defenders. That's how we worked.

"We believed in him. He was very impressive, strong-willed — a few were frightened of him, a few didn't like him — and he was hard, but he was honest.

"He said he was going to be the manager who would take the club up for the first time, he was insistent it would happen."

Saunders steered City to survival in their first season in the top flight and also took the Canaries to the League Cup final, losing 1-0 to Tottenham Hotspur.

He resigned in November, 1973 following a boardroom row after a 3-1 home defeat to Everton.

He went on to manage Manchester City, Aston Villa, Birmingham and West Brom.

Saunders is widely regarded as one of Villa's finest managers, in particular steering the club to the old Division One title in 1980-81.

In a statement, the club said Saunders died "earlier today... at 3pm". As a mark of respect, black armbands will be worn during Villa's Premier League clash with Leicester on Sunday

The Villa statement read: "It is the sad duty of Aston Villa Football Club to announce that our former manager, Ron Saunders, has passed away at the age of 87.

"He died earlier today, Saturday 7th December, at 3pm and his family have asked for their privacy to be respected at such a difficult time.

"Widely regarded as one of the club's greatest ever managers, he guided Villa to promotion in his first season in charge, lifted two League Cups and steered the club to a league championship in 1980/81.

"Against Leicester City (on Sunday afternoon), the players will wear black armbands and, as a mark of respect, we will be holding a period of applause to mark his outstanding contribution to Aston Villa."

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